An Interview with Ashley Denisov of 1×1

Tell us about yourself – familial/personal story, education, and prior work.

Photo credit: Imperial Stock Ranch

I received my B.A. from UCLA in Design | Media Arts, where I began developing my interest in fashion and working at several fashion internships in LA.

I then began my career as a UX Visual Designer in the San Francisco/Bay Area while studying Fashion Design and Patternmaking. After several years of creating clean user experiences for clients in the e-commerce market, I felt ready to translate that knowledge into my own online store. 1×1, a clothing line I had been formulating for years, began when I moved back to Los Angeles one year ago.

How did you get interested in ethical and sustainable fashion?

I started my line knowing I wanted to manufacture locally, and was incredibly lucky to meet with factories that delivered high quality services and directed me to some amazing sustainable material sources.

Our wool source, Imperial Stock Ranch is a great example of this. After hearing their story, it’s hard not to want to work with them. They have adapted sustainable farming practices that reduce erosion and fossil fuels, improve stream water quality and benefit local fish and wildlife populations.

How did your educational/professional experience inform fashion work?

Working to solve UI/UX challenges for large ecommerce sites, I had the invaluable experience of learning what makes a customer comfortable in a digital space and what encourages them to click the buy button.

I also observed my coworker’s online buying habits. Working in a creative office in San Francisco, people are excited to discover new products and brands. As a result, the designs for 1×1 are largely inspired by the people I worked with — creative individuals who value quality over quantity and are looking for something timeless yet unique to reflect their own personal style. Wardrobe staples they’ll want to reach for again and again.

What is the importance of ethical and sustainable fashion designers and companies?

More and more, consumers are becoming aware of the truth behind fast fashion: unfair wages and conditions for workers, and the excessive waste this trend produces.

Sustainable brands can begin a dialogue with customers and offer alternatives, but they are still hard pressed to compete with the low prices that come from fast fashion practices. To see impactful change throughout the industry as a whole, larger companies need to step up and make changes.

H&M’s sustainable line, or ASOS’s Eco Edit show that companies are eager to market sustainability to consumers, but it’s hard to gather exactly what they have done to take significant steps towards fair labor or waste reduction. However, it does show us that there is a demand among consumers to have sustainable options, and they may be encouraged to research products before purchasing.

What is 1×1?

We select some of our favorite wardrobe staples and design and release them — one by one.

Sustainability and local manufacturing are at the heart of what we do. We source ecologically responsible materials whenever possible, and we want our customers to know our product’s stories. Releasing items one at a time helps tell that story.

We don’t follow the traditional fashion calendar, releasing Autumn in the Summer and Spring in the Winter. Instead, we create items when inspiration strikes, hand in hand with local manufacturers. This allows us to have fast turnaround times, and create timeless fashions that are relevant all year round.

What are some of its feature products?

Right now we have two collections available: Wool and Shirts.

Our wool collection was our first release. It features 100% sustainable wool from Oregon.

By supporting farmers who produce a beautiful, quality product in a sustainable way, we are stimulating an industry that has been in steady decline since the 1940s. The United States used to be the world’s fifth largest wool producer. Today, it accounts for less than 1% of wool production.

Our shirts are an essential collection of crisp, minimal designs. The fabric we use is a Tencel/Rayon blend that is very soft to the touch with a nice drape. Tencel is a sustainable fabric that is regenerated from wood cellulose. It is similar in touch to rayon and bamboo, both regenerated fabrics.

What topics most interest you?

Design, Innovative Fashion Technology, Sustainable Materials

Did you have a mentor in this work?

Suzy Furrer, Founder and Director of Apparel Arts where I studied Pattern Making and Design, is an amazing teacher who is giving students practical tools they can use to become employed by the industry or start their own business. I found her courses incredibly inspiring, as well as the support from all the teachers in this program.

From personal observations, more women than men involve themselves in the fashion industry by a vast margin of difference at all levels. Why?

While fashion is an industry where women make up an overwhelming majority of the consumer base, men are still disproportionately dominating leadership roles in fashion.

“Even though women are entering the industry at the bottom, they are not rising proportionally to the top,” wrote Eric Wilson in a 2005 column for the New York Times. Over a decade later, things have unfortunately not changed.

Business of Fashion analyzed the proportions of male and female designers for the Spring/Summer 2017 Fashion week season—they found there were more male designers creating women’s clothing than women. Julie de Libran, artistic director of Sonia Rykiel remarked “Women unfortunately are still seen as a minority…even if certain fashion houses were created by women at their time, today they often have creative leaders that are men.”

So why do we see a lack of women at the executive level? Some believe there is a correlation between fewer female designers leading companies and men’s current majority holding of executive positions. Although this is the overwhelming trend in most industries, we can hope that women will begin to obtain more leadership positions in an industry that speaks directly to their sense of style and self expression.

Any recommended authors or fashionistas?

Women in Clothes by Sheila Heti – a conversation among women about how choosing the garments we wear shapes our daily lives.

To Die for: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World? by Lucy Siegle – a book about the current price of big name brands and what we can do to become more sustainable.

Any feelings or thoughts in conclusion based on the conversation today?

As our brand grows, I am very excited to develop new relationships with those who have dedicated time and research to innovative and sustainable fashion practices. Together, we can bring awareness to our consumers and change the way the fashion industry does business.

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About the Author

Scott Douglas Jacobsen researches and presents independent panels, papers, and posters, and with varied research labs and groups, and part-time in landscaping and gardening, and runs In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal.

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